Since the very beginning of the Visegrad Group, the efforts to develop and strengthen regional cooperation in the military and defence context has been in the heart of it. Visegrad Group has been a platform for political consultations on security and defence related topics with the focus on stimulation of cooperation in various areas of common interest such as joint capabilities development, interoperability of the V4 Armed Forces (education, training and exercises) and defence industry (joint procurement and acquisition). The very first meeting at the level of Ministers of Defence in the V4 format was held in Przemyśl, Poland on November 4, 1999.
However, the potential of the regional cooperation has not been fully used. The highest priority in the past was to focus on the joint European integration and membership in North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Accession of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to NATO and the willingness to accelerate the Slovak integration led to more effective consultations on defence and security issues among the Visegrad countries. When Slovakia became a member of NATO and all the Visegrad countries joined the European Union, intensity of the V4 cooperation in the area of defence decreased.
Financial crisis and introduction of the new cooperation concepts on capabilities development, NATO Smart Defence and EU Pooling & Sharing brought completely new stimulus for cooperation of the Visegrad countries in 2010. To support national capabilities development, regional cooperation and to strengthen the bond between Central Europe and Euro-Atlantic structures, the Visegrad Group has supported both initiatives from the very beginning.
Furthermore, the commitment to strengthen the Euro-Atlantic security by further implementation of the 2010 NATO Strategic Concept was presented by the V4 Ministers of Defence in the declaration Responsibility for a Strong NATO (Prague, April 18, 2012). Their commitment was further reaffirmed in a number of joint statements:
Visegrad defence cooperation has taken a new direction in recent years, when cooperation was extended from coordination of positions to other areas. These areas included several projects started with perspective to prove viability of the Visegrad Group. In order to prove the determination to strengthen Visegrad defence cooperation, the V4 Prime Ministers signed the Budapest Joint Statement of the Visegrad Group Heads of Government on Strengthening the V4 Security and Defence Cooperation (Budapest, October 14, 2013). At this point we opened a new chapter in the V4 defence cooperation.
Ministers of Defence of the Visegrad Group were tasked to:
We reached another milestone in March 2014, when the V4 Ministers of Defence signed three documents of strategic importance: Long Term Vision of the Visegrad Countries on Deepening their Defence Cooperation [.PDF], Framework for Enhanced Visegrad Defence Planning Cooperation [.PDF] and Memorandum of Understanding on Establishment of the V4 EU BG. Three crucial areas of practical cooperation were stipulated in the Long Term Vision:
To further enhance the V4 defence cooperation, the V4 Prime Ministers met in Budapest on June 24, 2014 and called for even closer regional defence cooperation. To support outcomes of their discussions and to ensure fulfilling of their tasks, they signed Budapest Declaration of the Visegrad Group Heads of Government on the New Opening in V4 Defence Cooperation and they tasked the V4 Defence Ministers with:
Three crucial areas of Visegrad defence cooperation were identified in the recently signed document Long Term Vision of the Visegrad Countries on Deepening their Defence Cooperation [.PDF]:
Acknowledging that the V4 defence cooperation has moved on over the last year, the already mentioned areas were perceived as a base for the Action Plan of the Visegrad Group Defence Cooperation and hence worked out into following subareas: